In the efforts by the government to transform the horticulture industry, the Cabinet Secretary of Roads and Transport, Kipchumba Murkomen and his Agriculture counterpart Mithika Linturi met with stakeholders in the fresh produce export business to discuss ways of promoting horticultural exports through the Eldoret International Airport.
Speaking at the forum in Eldoret, Murkomen said Kenya is looking to increase export earnings from horticulture industry following the relaunch of cargo flights at the Eldoret International Airport.
The CS said the Ministry of transport provides key facilitation of the transportation to ensure fast movement of goods and services from producers to consumers.
“Kenya is a major transport hub particularly in air transport therefore the government is focused on leveraging on the existing opportunities to increase export volumes to destination markets,” said Murkomen.
“We are working on improving the airport infrastructure, deploying modern technology, and optimizing operational procedures to increase capacity and boost operations at the Eldoret International airport,” he noted.
Murkomen said Eldoret Airport is ranked the second busiest cargo airport in Kenya after Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as it handles three cargo airlines and an average of 12,000 tonnes annually.
“As a Ministry, we are working on expanding the runway at the airport from the current 3.5 kilometres to 4kms to enable wide-body cargo planes to smoothly take off with cargo directly into international markets,” said the CS.
He noted that this expansion will eliminate the need to truck cargo to JKIA before it is exported to international markets thus resulting in the reduction of logistics costs and enhancement of ease of doing business.
“The Ministry is also working on diversifying land use at the airport, through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to encourage agri-business and other industrial developments that will create employment opportunities for the youth, and boost trade and investment in the region,” noted Murkomen.
Murkomen further assured farmers that the ministry will establish a joint marketing strategy that will bring together the policy makers, the county government, transporters and transport logistics companies to make sure all farmers are helped to identify the availability of the international market.
On his part, Linturi noted that the Eldoret International Airport has a great potential of being an enabler of exporting agricultural produce out of the food basket region.
“Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) which is now fully constituted will engage farmers in all regions to identify their needs for the Government to effectively address them,” he said.
“My Ministry is aggressively searching for new international market linkages for our agricultural products, and I therefore encourage farmers to produce to maximum capacity,” said the Agriculture CS.
He explained that to start with, he will flag off the first consignment of Kenyan Avocados to India in the next two days.
Linturi noted that Kenya is already exporting fresh produce to Israel and the government is determined to look for new markets in Israel including miraa exports to the Middle East market.
“Agriculture is the easiest avenue of growing the economy, creating jobs and eventually feeding our great nation,” said Linturi.
“We will put proper measures in place so that farmers are able to harvest quality horticultural crops so that once they are sent to international markets, they are of the required standards,” noted Linturi.
Linturi stated that the improvement of Eldoret international Airport will be an easy avenue of transporting perishable produce to the capital and beyond.
By Judy Too